Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Holy Leisure with Pastor Carlos
School is out and some parents start a conversation with the question, “where are you going this Summer?” The Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper, argued that to affirm the goodness of the world as God does, leisure is required: in leisure we can take a step back and contemplate and celebrate.
Leisure is not to be confused with the sin of sloth. Neither is it idleness. On the contrary, Pieper surmises that perhaps laziness is a kind of “chronic disappointment” out of touch with the ability to truly enjoy oneself. It reminds me of having lunch the other day with one of my Augustinian brothers who reminded me to really taste and savor the food we were eating. I think also of how some of the enduring discoveries of science, were discovered when the thinkers were simply taking a bath, like Archimedes discovering the physical principle explaining buoyancy, or Oliver Sacks, M.D. discovering neurological insights after/during long walks in nature.
Yet for many of us we may have conflicting sentiments about leisure. For some people work is a compulsion, perhaps even an addiction termed “workaholism.” Pieper wonders whether underneath workaholism is an unnamed restlessness. Frenetic activity perhaps reveals someone who is “not at one with himself [or herself].” Being one with oneself is the meaning of recollection, a term used in religious life. One needs time away from the frenetic pace to gather oneself, i.e. to recollect, in order to be present to the One who is always present to us, namely God.
Perhaps the monastic tradition can be helpful. Monks and cloistered nuns have no vacations or breaks, and yet they have a rhythm between work and moments of holy leisure to recollect themselves and allow their souls to be focused on God, like the swimmer that comes up for air again and again.
So perhaps this Summer, whether we have an official break from work or not, we can try to be mindful and intentional about the moments we have to savor the food we eat, to notice how we feel rather than going right away after our phone to check on text messages or e-mails, and to celebrate that we have been blessed by God with faith and the promise of eternal joy.
God bless, Fr. Carlos, OSA